Kindergarten Hand Exercises!

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As an occupational therapist and homeschooling mom, I have tried these kindergarten hand exercises many times over the years with countless schoolchildren as well as with my own, and there are loads of photos to inspire you as you see how easy the activities are.

These exercises are designed to improve the fine motor skills, hand strength and dexterity of kindergarten and preschool children.

correct pencil grip

In preschool and kindergarten, we do not expect a child to draw and colour with a fully mature pencil grip, like the one you can see alongside. This is the ideal pencil grip with the Tripod Fingers (thumb, middle and index fingers) working well together to control the pencil.

Some Kindergarteners will still be using a 5-point pencil grip, and some will have just learnt how to hold the pencil with three fingers.

But what if your child has a “weird” pencil grip, or hates having to even hold a pencil because of poor fine motor skills?

These exercises will help!

There is no pencil in sight for these activities – no drawing, no coloring, just lots of fun activities to improve fine motor skills.

Through these easy kindergarten hand exercises, we will encourage the hand muscles to be used in a way that makes it easy to develop the correct pencil grasp.

It is VITAL for toddlers and preschoolers to move through the different stages of pencil grasp development in order to develop good fine motor skills.

Do NOT force a preschooler to hold the pencil the “right” way – you will do more harm than good.

If you are concerned about your child's pencil grip, rather encourage fine motor skills to develop without using a pencil and you should find that your child will naturally holds the pencil with a more functional pencil grip as fine motor abilities improve. These easy kindergarten hand exercises should help, or contact your local occupational therapist if you are still concerned.

Some of these hand exercises will require your child to use both hands at the same time. For hand exercises that require your child to use just one hand, make sure only the dominant/preferred hand is used (see my article on hand dominance for more info.)

Have fun!

General Kindergarten Hand Exercises

Hand muscles – playdough exercisePlaydough is great for strengthening hand muscles. Squash it, squeeze it and pound it!
Kindergarten Hand exercises – playdough exercise 2Use both hands together to mould a pot, a bird’s nest or anything else that takes your fancy. Roll a few balls to make eggs for the nest or peas for the pot...
kindergarten hand exercises – playdough rollingRolling out playdough with both hands together is good for coordination as well as for exercising the hand and wrist muscles.
hand exercises for kidsPushing coins into money boxes is a fun exercise – all kids love feeling rich! Encourage your child to pick up and put in one at a time, and once he has mastered this, let him hold a few coins in his hand and put them through one by one without letting the others fall.
hand and finger exercises for kidsCrumpling small pieces of crepe paper for “scrunchies” is good exercise and also makes a great decoration for craft activities.
fine motor activityHere, Callum used ‘scrunchies” to add smoke to his chimney. The house was made as a cutting activity. Have a look at some more information on how to make scrunchies.

Scissor cutting skills are vital for getting the tripod fingers (thumb, index and middle fingers) to work together well. So, take a look at these scissor cutting tips and cutting activities for some fun ideas. Then try the specific kindergarten hand exercises below.

Kindergarten Hand Exercises for the Tripod Fingers

Fine Motor exerciseShow your child how to isolate the tripod fingers with a small slip of paper under the ring and little fingers. I tell my kids that the thumb, middle and index fingers are the 3 friends, who need to work together, so we are going to keep the other fingers out of the way with this piece of paper.
clothes pegs for kindergarten hand exercisesDraw a single dot on one side of a clothes peg, and two dots on the other side. This shows your child where to place the fingers for maximum fine motor benefit.
hand and finger exercises with clothes pegsUse the clothes pegs to pick up small pieces of paper. Here, Callum selects the dark green paper that he needs to make “scrunchie” leaves for his tree.
fine motor activity with clothes pegsChildren love to be helpful. Try stringing out a washing line at your child's height and giving small clothing items to hang up with pegs.
clothes peg activity preschoolCallum loves making cages for his dinosaurs and wild animals. Simply place clothes pegs all around an egg box lid!
finger exercise – crayon rubbingsOk, this activity does use a crayon, but it is used in such an undemanding way! Use the tripod fingers to hold a crayon down flat and rub color all over a large area, like this circle which is about to be cut out. Although square and triangular crayons are great, they are hard to find, but regular crayons do the trick just as well.
finger exercises – paper tearingTearing paper can be fun! First, check which way the grain of the paper runs – some magazines make great strips when torn vertically; others make better strips when torn horizontally. If necessary, you can tear the strips and your child can make the small squares. Once strips have been torn, then tear the strips into small squares across the grain. Use the tripod fingers to grasp the paper and tear.
paper collage for fine motorUse the paper squares to make a collage. Here, Callum is using the squares to make a river for one of his pictures.

Are these kindergarten hand exercises and activities very different to other “fine motor activities” that you have come across? Find out
why some fine motor skills activities are better than others at developing your child’s skills.

Did you know that developing the muscles of the hand is only one of the four Essential Bases for Fine Motor Development? You may want to take a look at understanding and developing the other bases to improve your child's fine motor skills.

Try these hand exercises and finger exercises for children in the early years of school.

If you have an older child with lousy fine motor skills, check out the slightly different approach in fine motor skills activities for older kids.

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